Prevention of child abuse starts at home with your own children. Lack of knowledge and inadequate parenting skills are cited by experts as the top contributing factors to child abuse and neglect.
There is no such thing as the “perfect parent” or “perfect child,” but there are healthy positive parenting skills to help guide your child’s growth.
- Take care of yourself. If you are tired, ill or just worn out, you cannot be an effective parent. Eat healthfully and get enough sleep.
- Give attention to the behavior you like—not the behavior you don’t. Children act up to gain your attention. Sometimes it pays to ignore those actions. Your child will quickly learn there is a better way to communicate.
- Focus on controlling yourself—not your child. Keep cool. In the case of an extreme behavioral flare-up from your child, count to 10, take a deep breath or simply walk away until you’ve had time to collect yourself.
- Redirect, redirect, redirect. Kids who hear “No” or “Don’t” all the time tend to tune those directives out. So instead of telling your child what not to do, instead offer a positive behavior to replace the misbehavior.
- Educate. Talk to your child about child abuse and safety. Know where your child is going and who he/she will be with. Pay attention to their behaviors.
Infants and toddlers are lovable
- Infants thrive in happy, healthy environments.
- Naturally, some infants will experience colic, trouble sleeping and clinginess. These are all very normal stages of infancy and toddlerhood but can cause frustration for some parents. The way you choose to handle these feelings is the most important thing.
- Place your baby in a safe place like a crib or playpen. Do something to relax and calm down—have a cup of tea or coffee, listen to music, call a friend or spouse, read or meditate. These feelings of stress are natural and will pass.
- It is okay to leave your baby with a trusted adult once in a while to get out and take a break!
Loving on older children
- Catch them being good. Try not to focus on undesirable behaviors. Rather, catch your child doing good and share praise. Tell him/her why you are proud, or why their actions are great! Positivity from parents helps your child realize they do not need to capture your attention by behaving in undesirable ways.
- Set boundaries and consequences ahead of time. Even with positive reinforcement, kids will act out. If a behavior is truly unacceptable (example: hitting a sibling) set realistic consequences that fit the “crime” (time out, losing privileges, etc.). Pick your battles and remember part of being a parent includes discussing boundaries.
- Always talk to your pediatrician for any behavioral concerns and for other positive parenting techniques related to your child.